- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The court-appointed manager of a property trust in a polygamous community wants a judge to order a takeover at the area’s water utility, saying it’s been used to funnel money to the group led by Warren Jeffs.

Subpoenaed checks and seized letters show the former president of Twin Cities Water Works, Inc. was loyal to Jeffs and sent more than $145,000 to buy goods for members of Jeffs’ sect, trust lawyer Jeff Shields said.

“It’s an outrage, what’s happened,” Shields said Thursday. He represents trust manager Bruce Wisan and filed court documents this week asking a judge put the water company in receivership and appoint new managers.

“Our goal is not to shut off the water,” he said.

Water utility lawyer Cameron Sabin did not return messages seeking comment Thursday, and there was no answer at a publicly listed office number for the utility.

Bank records indicate that more than $2 million collected between 2002 and 2009 was funneled to the sect or used to pay water managers’ personal bills, according to court documents.

The documents also point to a letter written by the president of the utility in 2006, asking the now-imprisoned leader for his advice on how to use the water revenues.

The letter addresses Jeffs as a holy prophet and says the president has been paying his family expenses, including cellphone bills and car insurance, from utility revenues at the direction of sect leaders, according to the documents filed Tuesday.

Trust attorney William Walker says the letter shows that water managers have misused utility money in the past, and court depositions from the current president and chairman of the board indicate the improper payments could be ongoing.

The state of Utah took over the property trust located along the Utah-Arizona border in 2005 amid allegations of mismanagement from trustees, including Jeffs. It holds most of the land and homes in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.

The water company is not part of the trust, but it pumps to homes and business from wells on trust property now controlled by the state, Walker said. The utility hasn’t paid for the water.

“We’re not trying to get any more than a normal provider would get,” Walker said.

He and Shields are asking a state court judge to put the utility into receivership, according to court documents first reported by The Salt Lake Tribune. No hearings were immediately scheduled in the case.

Jeffs, meanwhile, is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison after being convicted in 2011 of sexually assaulting underage girls he considered brides. Members of his sect, a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism, believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.

Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but the mainstream church and its 15 million members worldwide abandoned the practice more than century ago.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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